With every passing day I am more and more aware of the profound effects our beliefs have on our experience of life and the results we produce.
What is it that causes one to spend life on the streets and another who grew up in complete poverty to go on to make millions? What is it that leads someone to strap himself with explosives and walk into a crowded market place? Why do average people to join cults and end their lives in communal suicide? What is it that causes an athlete to persist despite massive obstacles and win the gold?
The answer is beliefs. Our beliefs function as the map we use to navigate reality, guiding and directing our choices and actions and directly affecting the results we produce in life. They make up the fibre of our experience running behind the scenes like the software of the mind. Without them we would be like a ship without a crew, aimlessly floating in the water with no direction at all.
Where do beliefs come from? We acquired most when we were children. At that time we had limited understanding, awareness and knowledge and formed beliefs based on limited information and evidence. We inherited many from parents, teachers and friends and adopted others from the religious and cultural influences. We also acquired beliefs from our own personal experiences and it was those negative and traumatic experiences that were most likely to help us form our most deeply held convictions. Unfortunately we have never taken the time to update our old programming, most of which is now obsolete.
A belief is formed when we generalize from an experience. We make conclusions about what things mean to us or what is true about reality and then use those as a compass to find our way in the world. A belief is more than just a thought or idea. It is a decision about what we think is true. Often we simply take on the interpretations and opinions of others or our culture at large. We accept what parents and teachers say without questioning their input and adopt ideas from society and religion without considering the consequences. When we are young it’s only natural. Although we think our beliefs are true, they are really just perceptions based on limited information and evidence. Once upon a time you believed that Santa Claus was real and that the tooth fairy paid you visits during the night. Luckily beliefs change with time and experience.
Most of our core beliefs formed as we attempted to make sense of important events that occurred long ago. With our limited knowledge and ability to reason we would analyze and interpret, trying to determine what they could mean. The ideas and meanings we came up with were merely thoughts. For them to become beliefs we would have to confirm them by saying, “Yes, that is true.” Those ideas and meanings we didn’t confirm were discarded and those we confirmed were added to our internal programming.
Why are beliefs so important? A belief functions as a command to the nervous system. When we believe something is true we give a signal to our mind and body about how to feel and behave. Our beliefs become self-fulfilling prophecies; we search for evidence to confirm our beliefs and discount evidence to the contrary. People used to believe the world was flat. That had so much faith in this belief and how did they act as a result? Like them, each of us goes through life with many such erroneous beliefs.
As we go through life, we interpret experience seeking to understand reality and discover what is true. We make decisions about what is about the world, but based on limited experience and through the limitations of our own sensory apparatus. No matter what we decide, our beliefs will always remain mere interpretations. They will only be true in a certain time and place and in certain circumstances. A belief is a generalization and no generalization is true 100% of the time. We may never really know what is true.
Instead of trying to find what is true, we need to choose beliefs that are useful. If our beliefs function as a command to the nervous system, we need beliefs that will give the right commands and help us produce the results we want. Beliefs can either be limiting or empowering. They can either prevent us from tapping into our capabilities or enable us to access our full potential to produce results.
If we want a greater quality of life, we need to update our internal software and choose programming that will serve us instead of hold us back. Most of our beliefs are out of awareness and as a result we have never questioned them. They guide our behaviour from behind the scenes and often we are unaware of the effect they are having on our life and the results we produce. To update our programming we need to bring them into awareness and run some anti-virus software. We need to weed out those that are toxic and replace them with new and empowering programs.
How do we bring our hidden programming to the surface? To uncover limiting beliefs, begin to look at the areas of your life that do not seem to be working the way you want. There will almost always be limiting beliefs that you were not aware of contributing to the problem. Once these beliefs are brought into consciousness you can begin to clear them out.
To update your programming take a belief that you feel is limiting you. First, ask yourself whether or not it is really true. Often you will find it is not and this realization will blow it out of the water. Next you can ask yourself, “How would I know if this were not true” or “Has there ever been a time when the opposite were true?” When we reassess old information many of our limiting beliefs cannot hold up.
If you want to produce specific results in any area of your life, once you have set your objective you need to align your beliefs with the result you want. You can backtrack from the result and choose beliefs that will propel you forward by asking yourself, “What do I need to believe to make this happen?”
What did Columbus need to believe to discover America? He let go of his flat world beliefs and chose ones that would lead him to greatness. If someone else is producing the results you would like for yourself, find out what they belief and install it in your own mind. When you have the right software and you are running the right program, you will find it much easier to produce the results you want.